Some weeks this column wanders. And why not? It's called Music Plus and there's a lot of “Plus” out there to add onto the Music.

I am, however, acutely aware from the friendly, if often entertainingly abusive, feedback pouring through various digital portals of the Watusi Country Club that some readers would prefer I stick to local music. Fair enough, it needs every column inch.

In my defence, I would point out that there are – I assume – also people reading who have little interest in local music but enjoy the “Plus”. It's just a matter of slapping a cheerful psychic.

This week it's all local. I've got three gigs of interest and in a coincidental bit of continuity they're all at the Historic Village's The Jam Factory.

Mainly I want to look ahead to next weekend when the blues is coming to town, but first a quick mention of this Saturday (August 31): Brendan McCarthy is playing his first show with a newly-reconstituted acoustic Apollo SteamTrain. The band has been around for a couple of years now, playing as an electric four-piece; they released a couple of singles, but Brendan decided it was time for a change.

As he explains: “The current market for the music that I have been writing and delivering for AST is very limited in our tiny paradise.”

Acoustic approach

So after Brendan toured the North Island at the end of last year with James Reid of The Feelers, playing a solo support set and then second guitar for James' set, and after a period of uncertainty with the band line-up, Brendan has decided to continue as a solo artist using the Apollo SteamTrain name and play smaller acoustically-focused shows with session musicians as required.

Saturday sees the debut of this new approach and finds him accompanied by guitarist Mike Kirk and drummer Ali Edwards with a support set from The Sweetleaf Trio, who comprise legendary bass player Patrick Hawkins, Jana Hawkins and Brilleaux guitarist Bruce Rolands.

Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm show; tickets are $20 from the Jam Factory website or door.

Moving right along, next weekend is getting bluesy at The Jam Factory as two Aussies come to town.

On Friday (September 6) Shaun Kirk - a thirty-ish blues player from Melbourne - is touring to support a new EP with the single Save My Soul which is out now. Shaun has been to Tauranga before three or four years back and is well worth seeing. He has a great tenor voice and is a spirited guitar player who impressively dials up those driving vintage guitar tones. And he delivers a dynamic fun live show. Doors open 6.30pm; tickets are $20 on-line from The Incubator, $25 on the door.

Nick Charles

Then on Saturday it's the turn of the brilliant Nick Charles, one of the real stars of Aussie acoustic blues guitar. Rosalie Liddle Crawford wrote a really good piece about him for SunLive that's worth checking out and I would highly recommend you seeing him if you fancy a little guitar magic.

He plays very fine six sting, 12 string and slide, and has an endless supply of great songs and stories. So far Nick has released 16 albums on major Australian and US roots music labels and is signed to Solid Air Records USA ("Home of the World’s Finest Guitarists”). The only other Australian to be found on that label is Tommy Emmanuel.

He has toured with and supported artists including John Hammond Jr, Guy Clark, Ralph McTell, Robben Ford, Junior Wells, Taj Mahal and BB King and toured the US ten times in recent years. Then there are the awards, including The AGE Blues Album of the Year in 2016 and twice winning Song Of The Year at the Australian Blues Awards. There are many more. All of which is to say – yes, he is that good, you gotta see him!

Expect a mix of acoustic roots music, including blues, folk, country and early ragtime jazz, and a support set from bluesman Mike Garner. I suspect jamming may also occur.

Once again the doors open at 6.30pm and tickets are $20.

Winston Watusi
Music Plus